For the last seven years, Marcella Sills and those individuals who ignored the pleas of "un-just" have help to rip apart the already crumbling Rockaway family by going after the innocent children.
The lack of care and concern is unacceptable. But, I am not surprised by it. The African-American community of Rockaway have and is still being ignored. Todays, political leaders and community advocates are trying to change that but, the issue at P.S 106 should have not have happened. I know everyone can not be at every place at once but someone should have listened to the pleas of the people before the New York Post became the whistle blower. But, do applaud the New York Post--even though I do not like their sensationalism journalistic approach--for bringing attention to this issue.
But, like I said, I wanted to post something to remind the people of Rockaway that there is someone who cares about them and want to keep the Rockaway family together, Cynthia Woods.
As a person of color, the long anticipated event in Rockaway is the Function at the Junction. Former Rockawaites travel from different parts of the country to join Rockaway residents in this annual reunion. They all come to Bayswater Park with a cooler full of barbecue and memories. Five years ago I sat down with Cynthia Woods, founder of the Function at the Junction and talked to her about who she admired growing up and the Function's history.
|Photo by Sandra Proto|
Sandra Proto: When you were growing up in Rockaway, who did you admire in the community?
Cynthia Woods: My softball coach, Mr. Kenneth Perkins. And the reason why I admired him was because he was like a father figure for all the girls. He had his own family but he was really like our father. He made you feel like you belonged to his family and he was there for you. You could talk to him about anything-he was just a family man. My parents had split when we were young and he was a person we looked up to. He bought my first pair of gold earrings when I graduated from high school-I still have those earrings. He's a person who has never been recognized in the community but had a real strong impact on the young people in the community.
Sandra Proto: I'm going to jump to my next question. What prompted you to start the Function at the Junction?
Cynthia Woods: A friend of mine, Gladys Renée Edmonds Hunter...was sick and she was dying of cancer. We would always talk about different people in the community and bringing people together-not seeing people just at funerals. Just bringing people back together. Just have fun-just be with people-just bring back that "community" that we lost. She gave me the idea-Why don't we have a reunion? And it's so ironic because the day of the reunion was the day they had her cremation. So, I can feel her spirit every year since we had the reunion. I can feel her spirit because she was a very jovial person, and very happy, and loved life.
Sandra Proto: So, the Function at the Junction is very nostalgic?
Cynthia Woods: Very much so. People haven't seen each other in twenty, thirty years, and when they see each other it's always an embracement, crying, and happiness. It's just like a day that can never be relived and ever year you see people come back to the community. Every year it’s a different set of people—it’s not always the same people. I look forward to that. And every year we have lost people since the reunion began. This is why I keep it going. People don’t know how important it is to the Rockaway community—especially for African-Americans who have lived in the community—who grew up in the community. I mean, there is not much really left for them in the community. This is something that is really important.
Cynthia Woods keeps it going because she is very compassionate about the state of Rockaway and its people. She told me she was finally comfortable being called a Community Advocate and Activist. Just like Goldie Maple, Sarah Colson, Reverend May, and Reverend Mason (to name a few) were considered pillars of the community, so should Cynthia Woods. Mrs. Woods considered Kenneth Perkins a father to her and he has been an obvious positive influence on her as well. As I look at the accomplishment that Mrs. Woods has with the success of the Function at the Junction, I can say she is the “Mother of Rockaway”— forever nurturing the community.
But she also need help to keep this event going. She is in need of committed individuals to be a part of the team of the Function of the Junction. If interested please, comment on this post with your email address and I will give it to her or if you have her information please contact her directly.